MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

September 11, 2013

Reusable bags more popular


— Paper, plastic or reusable? Reusable shopping bags have exploded in popularity, and many stores offer discounts for using your own bag versus using store-supplied bags. I’ve amassed quite a collection of reusable grocery bags (more on that later in this column!) and I like using them for several reasons. In addition to receiving discounts for bringing my own bags, I find that the reusable bags are stronger – important to me as I often am toting heavy groceries downstairs to my pantry. It only took one glass bottle of maple syrup to rip through a plastic, disposable bag and shatter on my garage floor for me to remember to bring my bags with me on each shopping trip. Now, I keep a “bag of bags” in my vehicle – five or six reusable bags stuck inside another reusable bag – so that they’re always ready for the next shopping trip.

Reader Carl is having some issues with reusable bags though. Here’s his email.

Dear Jill,

This is not a coupon issue but rather an issue with reusable grocery bags. Over the last couple years, I have had about a dozen bags. At least a half dozen broke down and turned to powder. One was brand new – never used – which fell behind the driver’s seat of my car and, when I tried to pick it up after a couple months, it broke down into dust in my hands. Disposable plastic bags have never done this.

Carl W.

It’s true that some reusable bags are indeed constructed more durably than others. I mentioned my reusable bag collection earlier – I would estimate that I have more than thirty bags now, so I can offer some tips on which kinds seem to last the longest. How did I get so many? Well, my original collection of bags started a few years ago when several retailers began giving away a free reusable bag if you shopped on Earth Day in April. I’ve also acquired additional bags from in-store offers, such as buying three boxes of cereal to get a free shopping bag.

But the rest of my bags? They’re cheap souvenirs of the cities and states I’ve visited when traveling the country for work or for pleasure.